By: Zahra Chaudhry
Regardless of party affiliation, currently all Americans are looking ahead to see what this new era with President Trump will bring. However, right now also seems to be the best time to reflect and understand what we have witnessed over the past eight years during a historic presidency under Barack Obama.
Whether you agree with his policies or not, citizens of this country can be proud to have experienced the first African American president and can appreciate the grace, charisma, and diplomacy with which he led the nation. There is a lot to learn by revisiting some of the major steps of the past administration, so that each of us can decide what it is that we want in the future, and also so that we may comprehend the changes from this last Commander in Chief that will undoubtedly be notable in history books for generations to come.
Perhaps his most well-known piece of legislation was the signature Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. This policy was initiated as an effort to get closer to universal healthcare, but has seen some strong opposition. The ACA is revolutionary because it gives health insurance to an additional 20 million people who did not have it before, it guarantees that people with existing health conditions are not turned away from insurance companies, and allows young people to stay under their parents’ health insurance policy until they are 26 years old.
Congressional members who are opposed to the ACA cite high premiums and deductibles for middle class families as the reason for wanting to repeal it, and have promised, for the past several years, to draft a policy that will maintain all of the positives of the law while driving down the price—no plan has been presented as of yet.
When Obama took office, the country was embroiled in the biggest financial crisis we had seen since the Great Depression—and he managed to reverse it and create the longest streak of job growth in America’s 240 year history. In the last eight years, the unemployment rate has been cut in half and Americans are overall in a better financial state.
Militarily, President Obama pulled our troops out of Iraq, exponentially reduced the number of prisoners in tax-payer funded Guantanamo Bay, and led the mission that killed Osama Bin Laden.
The 44th Chief Executive negotiated the Iran Nuclear Deal, thereby shutting down Iran’s nuclear program. Fighting for nuclear disarmament through this deal meant thwarting off demonstrably deadly threats to the world and making peace all the more possible without sacrificing our troops or resources by pulling us into intervention—a key focus of his foreign policy. Another major deal was the Paris Agreement, which finally made combatting climate change and protecting the Earth for generations to come a priority on the world stage.
Polarizing conversation might make it seem like this country is running off course, and many people have genuine concerns that government leaders must address, but really we must all remember that America has made it through much tougher times than this. Let us be optimistic for the future, peacefully advocate for what we believe in, and be involved in the political system, while rallying behind our current leaders when we need to.
Pertaining to all of us as students preparing for college and for our futures, realize that President Obama had this to say to us in his farewell address,
“This generation coming up – you are unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic – I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, just, inclusive America…you’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/opinion/the-obama-legacy.html?_r=0)
Wow, thanks Obama.